Good evening, it is terrific to be here with you in Abidjan to celebrate this exciting and important moment in the partnership between the United States and Côte d’Ivoire.
I’d like to thank you, President Ouattara, for your leadership in bringing about this important collaboration. I would also like to recognize the many dignitaries present from the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, representatives from the private sector, and United States Government colleagues. Your continued support and commitment have been essential in ushering this compact from idea to action, and will continue to be of utmost importance over the next five years.
Today we are here to celebrate the entry-into-force of the 525 million dollar compact between Côte d’Ivoire and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Reaching entry-into-force means that today, the five-year implementation clock officially begins, and implementation of the Côte d’Ivoire Compact is underway.
The Côte d’Ivoire Compact is emblematic of MCC’s mission: together, we set out to design projects that contribute to the national vision of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire that will reduce poverty in the country by supporting economic growth, while prioritizing the key role that the Government and private sector must play in our efforts if we hope to sustain our successes and see them expanded upon well into the future.
After our data-driven analysis of the existing economic constraints in the country, we decided upon a two-pronged approach—a project to boost the efficiency of the transit of people and goods in Abidjan, and a project focused on education and training to develop the country’s human capital.
The Abidjan Transport Project, focuses on facilitating the cost effective movement of people, goods, and services in the country’s largest city. The project will also involve a significant investment in the rehabilitation of key roads and bridges around the port, and improvements to the technical and managerial capacity of the Government’s road-transport agencies.
The Port of Abidjan is Côte d’Ivoire’s connection to the rest of the world, and speeding the flow of commerce to and from the port will deepen the country’s trade capacity. I am very much looking forward to visiting the Port area of Abidjan tomorrow.
The second component of the compact is the Skills for Employability and Productivity Project. The project will focus on improving basic literacy and numeracy skills in secondary education, complemented by an innovative technical and vocational training model that will align the skills of citizens with the needs of the private sector. By aligning those economic imperatives, this project has the potential to increase incomes for families, and help businesses thrive by creating the dynamic human capital they depend upon.
Furthermore, the project will also drive the economic empowerment of women in Côte d’Ivoire by improving access and outcomes for girls in the educational system and providing better economic and employment opportunities for women.
Earlier this year, President Trump launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, or W-GDP.
The W-GDP is spearheaded by senior advisor Ivanka Trump, and is a whole of government approach to advance women’s economic progress and participation around the world.
At MCC we believe that advancing gender equality and supporting women’s economic empowerment is fundamental to achieving our mission. Countries and economies cannot reach their economic potential unless women succeed. The economic empowerment of women is not just a moral imperative—it makes clear, economic sense.
MCC is proud to support the W-GDP initiative. And I also want to recognize President Ouattara and the Government of Cote d’Ivoire for their leadership on this important issue.
In April of this year here in Abidjan MCC joined Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, USAID, Côte d’Ivoire Vice President Duncan and Minister of National Education Kandia Camara for the launch of a new gender unit within the Ivoirian Ministry of National Education.
This gender unit will focus on improving education and training for girls and women which will strengthen the workforce and meet the needs of the Ivoirian private sector. It also fulfills a requirement for funding of the Skills for Employability and Productivity Project, which shows you just how seriously we take the economic empowerment of women at MCC.
Côte d’Ivoire has already implemented impressive reforms that have made the country more business-friendly and promote gender equality. President Ouattara, you have led Côte d’Ivoire through key governance and economic reforms, and that is the reason we are here today.
From passing just five of the 20 policy indicators on MCC’s scorecard in 2013, Côte d’Ivoire went on to pass 14 indicators in 2018. Your leadership and the commitment seen across the Government of Côte d’Ivoire has led to real change in a very short period of time.
Mr. President, I know that you have set a new goal of passing 20 out of the 20 MCC indicators, and I applaud you on this effort and, look forward to seeing more progress on the scorecard over the life of the compact.
To conclude, we at MCC are delighted to celebrate the compact’s entry-into-force with you today. I and everyone at MCC are deeply committed to ensuring this compact is a success. We cannot wait to see how this program that we have built together will drive even greater progress across the country, and we look forward to working together to make certain that happens.
Thank you to all those who have helped bring us this far, and thank you for the hard work that I know will continue as we work together to move this ambitious effort forward. If we stay focused and committed, this compact can mark and important step toward a brighter future for all Ivoirians and for the partnership between our two great nations.